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State Seeks Information on Virtual Physical Therapy Solutions

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Correctional Health Care Services want to learn more about making virtual physical therapy services available to the incarcerated.

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Two state entities charged with treating and rehabilitating California’s incarcerated are seeking information from vendors on a potential technology project.

In a request for information (RFI) released Thursday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) hope to learn more about the options for “virtual physical therapy services.” The goal, the entities say in the RFI, is to “explore vendor interest, solicit information and best practices from the vendor community in an effort to discover solutions that may be used to assist CCHCS in determining what is currently available in the marketplace based on the objectives and requirements as described herein.” Among the takeaways:

  • The RFI’s purpose is to obtain vendor input on who can provide “virtual physical therapy services through technology and equipment for CCHCS.” Responses will also help CCHCS identify and understand potential issues and risks around virtual physical therapy services. Data from this RFI will also be used to develop alternatives and, possibly, to estimate costs of “system acquisition for a proposed solution.” The entities seek “your best advice based on your experience with other organizations and initiatives of this kind.”
  • CCHCS, of course, provides care including medical, dental and mental health services to the state’s prison inmates at 34 CDCR facilities. The primary goal of CCHCS’ telemedicine services – including specialty services – remains improved access to care. Additionally, the RFI notes, “Primary care telemedicine has been shown to be a great resource for institutions with recruitment and retention issues,” when providers may be unavailable for long periods or where access to specialty services may be limited.
    “Agencies across the nation are taking note of California Correctional Health Care Services’ Telemedicine Services,” per the RFI, which notes that CCHCS’ telemedicine program books more than 25,000 specialty and primary care appointments a year, making it “an exemplary model for remote medical services.”
  • Currently, many state prisons struggle to get “consistent on-site physical therapy resources,” causing delays in care and potentially impacting recoveries. New technology “now allows patients to perform their prescribed exercises without a RPT (registered physical therapist) via a ‘virtual coach’ and ‘home’ exercise program.” This new technology, per the RFI, is “conceptually attractive,” but it’s not clear whether it will add “sufficient value” and be cost-effective. The RFI is intended to let CCHCS assess whether this is technology worth pursing through a formal bid solicitation. The RFI cautions vendors that the “proposed environment of any future solicitations ... will be inside a rural California correctional, maximum security facility,” so systems proposed will need to have the option of construction modifications accordingly.
  • With respect to vendor profiles, the state is interested to learn whether respondents are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant and whether their companies and products are U.S. Food and Drug Administration-compliant. The RFI asks about companies’ total number of system installations during the last five years and for three references of clients with installs during the last 24 months. System-related questions include how many users a system can support; whether it’s cloud-based and requires subvendors during provision; security standards and certifications; and what platform systems run on. The state is also interested to learn time-to-implement for new solutions; potential costs; outage response times; and requirements to ensure uninterrupted service during an outage.
  • Anticipated contract duration and value are not stated. Intents to respond to this RFI are due by 2 p.m. Thursday. Questions on the RFI are due by 2 p.m. Oct. 21, and RFI responses are due by 2 p.m. Oct. 28. Dates and times for demonstrations of potential systems or solutions, if they are to be held, have not yet been determined.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.